Archives For Prayer

One of the highlights of State of the Union Addresses, is the build-up and debriefing offered by commentators. Mainstream media “expert” panels have their place,  but in favour of a more conversational tone, I prefer to steer away from them. If you’re an Aussie, and are old enough to remember Channel Ten’s excellent, late night program, ‘The Panel’,  you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of the better American versions, is the gathering of Daily Wire front-men, and their, all-issues-on-the-board, round table.

Although a lot of what Donald Trump said throughout the blockbuster address, was worth a post on its own (particularly the last 45 minutes of his speech), the content of a four-minute discussion between Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan, during the Daily Wire’s post-SOTU discussion, also deserves highlighting.

Here’s why:

“You know it’s amazing; it just occurred to me when you watch that speech, you see all these Democrats and they’re constantly talking about check your privilege this, and check your privilege that; here’s the fact, everyone who is born today is privileged everyone who was born in the last 30, 40, 50 years in the United States these are the most privileged human being ever so check your privilege seriously check your damn privilege. Like all these women who are dancing there, “oh, look at us we finally overcame; [no], you didn’t overcome a damn thing. Your grandmother’s overcame something, your great grandmothers overcame something and that’s really what the speech was about”
“When Trump was saying, when he was paying homage, half the people he was paying homage to are people who are over the age of seventy, right? And he was saying you know our privilege is to be their grand-kids, our privilege is to be their kids. They’re the ones who did the heavy lifting. We’re just here picking up the leftovers and it’s our job to push it on to the next generation.”
“The one privilege that people will not recognise on the left is the privilege of having been born here and the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. They act as though the earth began spinning the moment they arrived here, and that they’ve had to overcome such terrible burdens. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has not had to overcome a burden. Neither have I by the way. With very rare exceptions there are some people who have had to overcome [terrible burdens].“ (Shapiro)

In the space of four minutes, Shapiro and company achieved, what large amounts of naval gazing commentators have failed to do from 2016 onward; and that is provide a succinct, proper explanation of what “Make America Great Again” actually stands for, and why its impact is important to understand.

 “…this is what the Left number understood about Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. MAGA was never about this idea that America was ever at any point in the past to utopia it was about the idea that the people who inhabited America were infused with the idea of an American Dream that they were motivated by that idea and if you want to make America great again you have to get back to that idea that motivated people are grandparents to storm the shores of Normandy anybody in that chamber is storming the shores of Normandy, they’re bitterly storming the shores UC Berkeley.” (Shapiro)

Shapiro’s right. It’s wrong to say that MAGA is only the manifestation of old white men and their desperate, failing, attempt to hold onto a Utopian past. It’s just as wrong to say that MAGA is the product of a hidden pseudo-Nazi religion; as is pushed by some who’ve hijacked Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, amongst Leftist theologians; or Leftist politicians, and the small amount of delusional Neo-Nazis, who Leftists need in order to justify their own fascist tendencies (which include the widespread use of manipulation, reckless labelling and generalisations).

Despite what you’ve been told, or may think about Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the MAGA movement is multi-ethnic. Looking at MAGA through its multi-ethnic lens, shows that it was more than just an election slogan for Donald Trump, or the Republican Party. The multi-ethnicity of MAGA proves what many said from the start, often against a barrage of hatred, deliberate misinterpretation and false accusation: “Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion.

MAGA’s popularity, even amongst ethnic groups, can be explained by its line-in-the-sand message.  It’s about Americans. It’s about inheritance, faith and tradition.On a broader scale, it’s about taking a firm stand against the abuse of hard fought for freedoms, and the blurring of definitions; a firm stand against the surrender of Western Civilisation behind a veil of compassion, and the downgrade of both Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

MAGA is the defiant stand of a free people, thrown into a culture war they didn’t ask for; a war that is being waged on the West from within, while opportunistic people, determined to make an enemy of the West circle overhead.

MAGA is a megaphone, not for racists, but for ordinary everyday people. It’s allowed, and allowing, an increasing majority, who are not aligned, or who were once aligned with Leftism, to break free from Leftist ideology, such as their obsession with victimisation and their mob mentality. Significant examples of people who are breaking free are the #walkaway and #Blexit movements.

It wasn’t just Trump’s 2016 election win that unveiled just how far the culture war had advanced. It was also the fact that Hilary Clinton lost. Clinton’s “shock” election loss, unmasked Leftism and it’s war against all who disagree on reasoned ground with them. Clinton’s election loss exposed the Leftist march against people who are on both the Left and the Right. That loss woke people up to the actual nature of Leftism, as it began charging at them, celebrity venom at the ready, Antifa flag flying, faces hidden and bayonets drawn.

The fact that things have been allowed to get so hostile, isn’t entirely the fault of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism or its cult members. The culture war has been, by and large, triggered by the long complacency and entitlement of many in the West. As Shapiro and company explain, while there is a unity in universal privilege, there’s an absence of unity in gratitude and awareness of that privilege. Gratitude and universal privilege are overlooked in the American psyche, (and I’ll add, most of the West).

Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan added weight to Shapiro’s grand-slam response to the State of the Union address stating:

“Yeah, this is the thing that makes this speech so jarring even for me in this culture but especially for people on the left is gratitude we have utterly lost gratitude, there’s nothing but pride, and entitlement that people feel, and so [Trump] goes and he says thank you. Thank you for what you guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thank you for what you did; and it’s so that we’re just not used to saying thank you anymore.” (Knowles)
“I’ve never seen a major war. I’ve seen racism and I’ve seen it disappear; they disappear, it vanished, you know. It was gone and I think it’s not personal racism. That’s always there; with us, but institutional racism it’s just erased. You know I’ve seen all this stuff I’ve never had to fight I’ve never had to pick up a rifle I’ve never had to do any of those things and I’m so grateful, I’d be of jerk if I weren’t an optimist.” (Klavan)

Through this lens, MAGA, is about showing gratitude for freedom, opportunity and American privilege. It’s not an empty boast about American exceptionalism, a longing for some Utopian past, or some fanatical quixotic return to a doctrine of “manifest destiny.””

As Ronald Reagan, said in 1964,

The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. [This is] the meaning of “peace through strength.”[…] We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” [i]

MAGA is a renewed line-in-the-sand, drawn and backed by a people who refuse to surrender freedom in the name of what others call “progress”. Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion. It’s no longer just about Donald Trump. MAGA is a bulwark against Leftism, not just for Americans; not just for the Right, but for anyone in the West, who chooses to pick up both prayer and gratitude, knowing that we have what we have today, because we were not handed a gift to abuse, but a gift to preserve, and build responsibly upon.


References & Notes:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 A Time For Choosing 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

I’ve found that one of the best times to listen to Mozart’s Requiem in D-minor is during a rainstorm. There’s no other accompaniment better suited to the epic melancholic composition, than that of heavy rain hitting the roof. Water spilling out over flooded gutters and raindrops bouncing off fences.

Sometime between now, up until the close of Lent, take a few minutes to listen through one of the most significant pieces of music ever written by human hands. Since a sigh turned towards heaven is translated into a prayer by the Holy Spirit, it’s possible that the heart prays through music. If the latter is indeed as true as the former, may it be so:

.

Rex tremendae majestatis,

Qui salvandos salvas gratis,

Salve me, fons pietatis.

.

Recommended performance of the complete Requiem in D-Minor, courtesy of Arsys Bourgogne, YouTube.

Link to the complete English translation of Requiem in D-Minor, courtesy of the Manly Warringah Choir.

On Prayer

September 21, 2017 — 1 Comment

 

 

Christian. Ignite Hope.

Christian. Write.

Christian. Shine.

Christian. Unchain.

Christian. Gather.

Christian. Sever.

Christian. Bind.

Christian. Empower.

Christian. Sacrifice.

Christian. Love.

Christian. Say ”No”

Christian. Say “Yes”

Christian. Breathe.

Christian. Live.

Christian. Comment.

Christian. Eat.

Christian. Be Content.

Christian. Exercise.

Christian. Rest.

Christian. Obey.

Christian. Grow.

Christian. Go.

Christian. Listen.

Christian. Question.

Christian. Discern.

Christian. Fight.

Christian. Serve.

Christian. Repent.

Christian. Pray.

Christian. Learn.

Christian. Translate.

Christian. Interpret.

Christian. Apply.

Christian. See.

Christian. Encourage.

Christian. Challenge.

Christian. Walk.

Christian. Follow.

Christian. Seek.

Christi n . Be found.

Christian. Bless.

Christian. Hear.

Christian. Heal.

Christian. Forgive.

Christ     . Victorious.

….

 ‘The focal point of the Church’s action is the decisive activity of prayer…Because prayer is the decisive activity, prayer must take precedence…, and in no circumstances must it be suspended.’[1]

….

Christian.

Don’t forget.


References:

[1] Barth,K. 1938 Freedom Under the Word, C.D 1.2 Hendrickson Publishers 2010 p.695

{inspired by St.Patrick’s Breastplate}

One of my theology teachers once told me that his lecturer would kick start their history class by singing an old hymn.

He was so impressed by it, that he borrowed the idea. Consequently, our history lessons began the same way.

And as one does, I figured we could do the same. Singing just the lyrics.

The song choice wasn’t hard. ‘Be Thou My Vision’ has been on the top of my list since the late 90’s. Where I encountered an appreciation for it from my boss, an 84 year old Scottish lady named Irene, who also happened to like some of the more modern heavier stuff I’d recommend to her. Our kids also like the song, so I decided to spend a few hours putting together my own version of it.

As a song, the melody lends itself to almost any beat. As a prayer, it stands alone in its category.

LYRICS

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I, Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Be Thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight,
Be Thou my armor and be Thou my might.
Thou my soul shelter, and Thou my high tower,
Raise Thou me heavenwards, oh power of my power.

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are

High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision O Ruler of all [i]

 


[i] Circa. 8th Century, author unknown. Trans. Mary Byrne, 1905; Eleanor Hull, 1912

Arrangement and image are mine.

The Empty Side of Grief

February 19, 2016 — Leave a comment

Pic 12

Dynamic is the melody;

a bruised life;

frustrated forgiveness –

the empty side of grief.

The melody reaches for a resolution.

Like dry tears that lock up a grieving heart.

The melody is chained.

It struggles to flow;

to find wings beyond itself;

to be found by the enigmatic glow.

By beat and roar heaved towards foe,

the voice resolves,

its freedom aided by the simplest groan.

Answered by way of the smallest tone.

By grace it slows,

and

by these commanding whispers,

it soars above its woe.

‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.’
– (Paul, Romans, 8:26)


(RL2016)

Words and music are my own.

Review: Prayer, Karl Barth

November 1, 2015 — 1 Comment

Prayer_BarthKarl Barth’s, 1949 treatise on The Lord’s Prayer is like a series of exegetical notes placed together in readable format. The text takes the form of a conversational commentary. His thought is lit up by a consistent effort to place everything squarely at the feet of Jesus, ‘the Victor’; it is through and by Christ that we can pray with the certainty that our prayer is heard. Even within the sphere of human limitations we are given the grace and permission to pray. Barth’s main point is that because of this grace; this permission to pray, we therefore, must pray.

‘Faith is not something we carry about in our pockets as a rightful possession. God says to me, “Put your trust in me; believe in me.” And I go forward, I believe; but while going forward, I say, “Come to the help of my unbelief.” (p.10)

Barth infuses the topic of prayer, with prayer. Adding to this conversational tone Barth makes no clear mark for when the prose ends and the prayers begin. They overlap. Each prayer catches the reader by surprise; each prayer an important part of the treatise. (See pp. 34, 39, 42-43, 51, 56-58 & 63-64)

The infiltration is inadvertently deliberate. In ‘Prayer’ we encounter, Karl Barth the Pastor. He gives of himself in a pastoral capacity. Being weary and sometimes critical of showmanship, it’s not a common thing to find Barth putting prayer into academic writing in this way. It’s not common to find a theological text of Barth’s filled with such passionate appeals, which also function as pauses, intermingled with the text.

As much as they are for the Church to God, these prayers are personal. They represent a vulnerable Barth standing by real convictions. Though the early theological conclusions and post-war historical context show a work-in-progress, this picture of Barth’s hermeneutics illustrates both Pastor and Professor at his best.

‘Prayer must be an act of affection; it is more than a question of using the lips, for God asks the allegiance of our hearts.’ (p.19)

‘Prayer’ contains some of Barth’s most memorable stand alone statements. Lingering take away points abound.

These include,

  • ‘A sad and gloomy church is not the church!’ (p.37)
  • ‘May we pray that the Bible will not cease to hold our attention. May the Bible not begin to make us yawn, and thy word, in all its parts not become a boring matter in our minds and in our mouths; may it not become a bad sermon, a bad catechism, a bad theology.’ (p.34)
  • ‘The Kingdom of God is the final victory over sin.’ (p.35)
  • ‘We participate in His cause even as He participates in ours.’ (p.43)
  • ‘The most certain element of our prayer is not our requests, but what comes from God: His response.’ (p.66)
  • ‘Forgiveness is already given, and this is the reality by which we live… thou hast severed us from the past. In Jesus Christ thou hast made me a new creature.’ (pp. 56-57)
  • ‘The pardon of God enables forgiveness…To know how to forgive is not a merit, a moral effort, or a sort of virtue…Let us not settle down to enjoy the offense done to us; let us not nurse our grudges with pleasure. Rather, let us retain some humor with respect to our offenders. Let us have toward others this small impulse of forgiveness, of freedom.’ (p.55)
  • ‘Prayer must take the place of anxiety.’ (p.50)
  • ‘We are confronted by an accomplishment which is infinitely beyond our possibilities’ (p.36)
  • ‘God’s patience is a gift’ (p.51)

In ‘Prayer’, Barth notes, the consequence of grace is grounded in the revelation of Jesus the Christ. This is an intentional reversal of the consequence of sin. One provoked in humanity by an ‘evil that preoccupies us and causes us anxiety with it’s sly and insidious power.’ (pp.61-62).

This is the impact of God’s incarnation: Human freedom is made free by God’s love and acted out of God’s freedom for our benefit. It is by the consequence of grace – the uniqueness of Jesus Christ – that ‘the sinister wickedness of the enemy is unmasked’ (p.62). It is through Jesus Christ that we are unchained; that humanity becomes fully human; that we get to see again. Even for those who do not see it, ‘such a light already shines on them; grace has already embraced them’ (C.D IV:4, p.181). Because of Jesus Christ we pray; humanity is called to respond, called to become fully human through acknowledgement (faith) and participation (word, deed and attitude) with, for and in Him.

‘In Jesus Christ the human being is revealed. In him it becomes the creature par excellence, which cannot be, which cannot exist, or which cannot act alone…as soon as we have understood Jesus Christ, we have understood our humanity, our nature, our function, which are inseparable from God.’ (p.28)

Included in this exposition of The Lord’s Prayer is a discussion on the eschaton (kingdom come) and evil. It is both illuminating and vibrant. In a matter of a few pages Barth comes close to summarising his entire eschatology, theodicy and theology of evil. For him the substance of absolute evil is nothingness. It is that which God did not will or create. It is the ‘infinite menace…that is opposed to God himself and has imposed itself on creation’ (p.60).

Importantly, Barth makes a distinction between the ‘work of the Evil One and, moral and physical trials’ – the latter involves minor temptation, the former, supreme temptation;

‘one must distinguish between the two, for here it is not a matter of an ordinary threat which might be clearly perceived and resisted. It is the menace that, for the creature, carries with it not only a passing danger, a destruction of secondary importance, a momentary corruption, but total fall, ultimate extinction.’ (p.60)

Of  importance is the conclusion this follows: ‘because there is no humankind without God, atheism is a ridiculous invention.’ (p.29) Atheism is not just a rejection of the God hypothesis; it is ultimately the negation of creaturely existence; the supreme temptation of self-annulment. In short, humanity by itself is nothing. But, in Christ, God  affirms humanity. He has communicated Himself to the world. Given us hope; a cause and reason to pray.

 ‘God causes himself to be seen, because ‘the world cannot reveal God; it is God who knows how to speak of God. [and He has done so, freely and willingly]’ (quoting Blasé Pascal, pp.31-32)

Barth asserts that ‘in Jesus Christ the world has reached its end and its purpose.’ Expanding on his statement in Church Dogmatics II:I p.274, he writes:

‘…in Jesus Christ, God reveals that, while being perfectly free and self-sufficient, He does not wish to be alone. He does not wish to act, exist, live, labor, work, strive, vanquish, reign, and triumph without the human race. God does not wish, then, for his cause to be his alone; he wishes it to be ours as well…He permits us to pray, he commands us to pray…He invites us to participate in his work.’
(pp. 26-27)

‘Prayer’ provides a glimpse of Karl Barth’s personal faith. Unpacking the Jesus Prayer and with a relaxed tone, he delivers a prose on prayer that reads like a conversational commentary. The conversation between Professor and reader is underpinned by the prayers of a Pastor leading his Church to the feet of Jesus, who is now and will always be, Victor. It is because of this that we are enabled; given permission to pray; permission to load our ‘baggage’ (p.66) onto the God, who hears, chooses to hear and though He may seem silent for a time, is also willing to respond.

 ‘Jesus Christ has vanquished and He invites us now to participate in His victory […] Prayer is not an undertaking left to chance, a trip into the blue. It must end as it has begun, with conviction: Yes, may it be so!’ (pp.46 & 66)

Source:

Barth, K. 1949 Prayer, 50th Anniversary Edition Westminster John Knox Press

Medieval words that bounce off the page, and land in the present.

Cath_Siena quote 4_1